Slack has a new logo because the last one was 'simply awful'

Office messaging app Slack is changing its logo because it says the current one "pained" the company and was "simply awful."

It will no longer use the colorful hashtag that it used when it launched in 2013 and has instead designed a four-color logo using lozenge and speech bubble shapes.

While the company says it liked elements of its original logo, its 11 colors made it very easy to get wrong, the firm said in a blog post Wednesday.

"If placed on any color other than white, or at the wrong angle (instead of the precisely prescribed 18-degree rotation), or with the colors tweaked wrong, it looked terrible. It pained us … Simply awful," the post, authored by Slack Team, stated.

S3studio | Getty Images

The post included versions of the old logo against different backgrounds, and said it had to develop three different ones, including a black-and-white version and a square checked option.

The new version uses fewer colors but isn't a million miles from the original, Slack said. It worked with design agency Pentagram on the project, led by partner Michael Bierut, and considered using emojis, dots and different versions of the hashtag (or "octothorpe") when creating the new logo according to a post on Pentagram's website.

Logos are used by companies aiming to make their business instantly recognizable — and changing them can cause a backlash. In 2010, Gap changed its logo typeface to a simple black lettering with a blue square superimposed over the "P" but within days returned to its original long font with the brand name written in upper case letters after people called it "tacky" and "cheap." In 2014, Airbnb updated its logo from a blue italic design to a red "Belo," which the company said is a symbol of belonging. Some people weren't happy, saying it looked like different body parts, but the company stuck by it.

Slack's new logo, shown on the bottom row of icons, was launched in January 2019
Slack | Pentagram
Slack's new logo, shown on the bottom row of icons, was launched in January 2019

Top companies in the tech sector have similar-looking logos, using a lot of blue because it's a symbol of "trustworthiness and security" according to an August 2018 study by freelance marketplace 99designs. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel and IBM use shades of blue for their entire logos, while Microsoft and Google incorporate it into theirs. Slack's new logo includes some blue, with green, pink and yellow against a purple or white background.

Slack said the logo would run on its smartphone, tablet and PC apps to start with, followed by its website and in advertising, but it did not confirm exact dates. The company is expected to go public this year with a direct listing because it has about $900 million of cash on its balance sheet, according to a report on The Information website.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Slack's hashtag logo is called an "octothorpe."

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